Army & Navy Stores (United Kingdom)

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For the Canadian department store of this name, see Army & Navy Stores (Canada).

Army & Navy Stores was a department store group in the United Kingdom, whose the flagship store was located on Victoria Street in London, England.

House of Fraser acquired the group in 1976. The Victoria Street department store traded under the Army & Navy name, until 2005, when it was renamed House of Fraser Victoria. Each of the four selling-floors holds a broad range of merchandise including clothing, accessories and cosmetics, furnishing, household and electrical goods. 'World of Food', a new food hall concept in House of Fraser stores (introduced at Birmingham in 2003), was opened on the Ground Floor to coincide with the store's relaunch under the 'House of Fraser' name. Situated within the City of Westminster, to the south of St. James's Park, it is the only department store to trade in the locality.

House of Fraser was acquired by Icelandic investment company, Baugur, in late 2006.


The store began as a co-operative society, The Army & Navy Co-operative Society, formed in 1871 by a group of army and navy officers.[1] The intention was to supply 'articles of domestic consumption and general use to its members at the lowest remunerative rates'. The store opened on its present site on 15 February 1872 for the sale of groceries and expanded to include goods as diverse as drapery, drugs, fancy goods and guns. Items useful to the military man such as campaign furniture and sporting goods were also supplied.

Based on the model of other middle-class co-operatives, such as Civil Service Supply Association (Strand, London, 1864), the society issued tickets to its members in exchange for annual subscription. Membership of 'The Stores' as it became known was open only to those in the higher ranks of the armed forces and the widows of officers and the representatives of regimental messes and canteens. In later years membership was expanded to a wider audience and tickets were issued free of charge after 1922. The benefits of membership included a dividend from the profits of the business and the free delivery of goods.

There were originally eight directors,[2] the first managing director being Major F.B. McCrea. The last surviving member of the original board, Captain Ernest Lewis, died on 3 April 1926. He was joint managing director and treasurer until he retired in July 1914 after 43 years with the society.[3][4] One of his sons was Donald Swain Lewis, senior officer who died in the Royal Flying Corps in 1916.[5]

Ordnance survey maps from 1869 and 1894 of the Pimlico area show the Royal Army Clothing Depot near the Thames and bordered by St George's Square, Chichester St and Claverton St. The area is now Dolphin Square. It is believed[by whom?] that this was where some of the A&N goods were produced. The same 1894 OS map also shows an 'Army and Navy Co-operative Society's Stores' toward the east end of Vincent St, Westminster. Currently where Marsham St joins John Islip St.

The Army and Navy Stores Limited 'General Price list 1935-36' listed showrooms and offices at 105 Victoria Street, Francis Street and Howick Place, Westminster SW1. Depots were listed in Union Street, Plymouth, Devon and in India at Esplanade Road, Bombay and Chowringhee, Calcutta. There was also a furniture depository and strong room at Turnham Green and an auction room at Greencoat Place SW1.

The present Victoria Street building was completed in 1977,[6] designed by London architects Elsom Pack & Roberts.[7]



On 13 November 1973, the proposed merger between Boots and House of Fraser companies was subject of a written question in the House of Commons and the following companies were listed as subsidiaries of Army & Navy:[8]

  • William Harvey of Guildford Ltd.
  • Harveys of Camberley
  • Army & Navy Stores (Bromley) Ltd.
  • Genge & Company Ltd.
  • Thomas White & Company Ltd.
  • J. D. Morant Ltd.
  • Thomas Clarkson & Sons Ltd.
  • Burgis & Colbourne Ltd.
  • Artillery Mansions Ltd.


  1. ^ Record c0512, House of Fraser Archive, Glasgow University Archive Service (accessed 25 October 2012
  2. ^ Record c2605, House of Fraser Archive, Glasgow University Archive Service (accessed 25 October 2012)
  3. ^ The Times, Thursday April 29, 1926; pg. 25
  4. ^ Ward, R.D. (2013). Wealth and Notoriety: the extraordinary families of William Levy and Charles Lewis of London. ISBN 978-1-291-33477-7
  5. ^ Tyrrell-Lewis, D.H.G., Facta Non Verba, page 26. ISBN 978-1-47160726-4
  6. ^ London Evening Standard online article 01.10.04
  7. ^ The Times, Monday April 17, 1972; pg. 24; Issue 58454
  8. ^ Hansard 1973 vol 864 cc113-5W

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